Diggin’ Up Roots: the art of note taking

I am an Evernote lover.  If that word is foreign to you, stop reading this post and download Evernote to your computer, your laptop, your tablet, your smart phone now!  I guarantee you will wonder how you ever lived your life without Evernote!

The Evernote elephant remembers everything!

The Evernote elephant remembers everything!

There were several good RootsTech classes on using Evernote, and Lisa Louise Cooke has good webinars for it, as well as DottoTech.

Without giving you a whole Evernote tutorial (you can find lots of them on youtube), I will just say that you can use Evernote for everything from basic note taking to digital genealogy files.  When we “go to town” once a week for groceries, I am completely lost if I don’t have my phone with my list on Evernote.  If I have a brilliant thought, even in the middle of the night, I reach for my phone and click on Evernote to record that thought.  Anything I don’t want to forget becomes a note in Evernote.  When I find and scan an ancestor picture, it goes into Evernote.  When I take notes at RootsTech, they are stored in Evernote.  If a friend tells me how to make her scrumptious blond brownies, the recipe goes in Evernote.  You can save an entire web page with one click.  These are some examples of my genealogy notes/files on Evernote:

Salt Lake City Cemetery Map

Salt Lake City Cemetery Map

Ancestor Obituary from newspaper

Ancestor Obituary from newspaper

Postcard sent to my grandmother

Class notes

Class notes

Cemetery photo

Cemetery photo

And best of all, no matter where I am or what device I have or don’t have with me, I can access my Evernote files.  Your notes are stored in the cloud and you don’t have to worry about them.  You can organize them in any way using notebooks and you can search by word if you lose a note in your filing cabinet.  It’s like carrying my office around with me!  My genealogy is at my fingertips as well as the most mundane items of my life.

Evernote is free unless you use too much space, but even at that I only pay $5.00 per month for all this peace of mind.

Seriously, it would take many long blog posts to outline the benefits, so just give it a free try and I know you will love it for storing your genealogy.


Diggin Up Roots: lost and found

This post is one I didn’t plan to write – until this weekend’s traumatic event involving computer and quick finger!  Last year at RootsTech I was introduced to Backblaze.  I had been using another cloud backup service, but Backblaze is only $5 per month for unlimited service, so I switched.  I had lost a gazillion music files when my external hard drive just gave up the ghost a year ago, so I had already learned that lesson.  Yes, I have a new external hard drive, but I don’t trust it, so letting someone else backup my computer was a better choice for me.

This weekend I had to rely on Backblaze and they came through.  On Friday I temporarily installed a software program on my desktop for one of the grandkids.  There were several icons installed.  On Saturday, I wanted to get all of that software off my desktop and I saw the “uninstall” button and clicked on it (without really paying attention or reading the fine print).  Suddenly, every file saved on my desktop was gone, lost for good!  I know, I know, I shouldn’t have kept important stuff on the desktop, but I was accessing it every day, all day, and it was just easier – all of my blog ideas, pictures and instructions, but most importantly EVERY FILE on the children’s genealogy book I’m writing!  I nearly had a heart attack!  After frantically searching and determining that it was all really lost, I tried to do a system restore, but for some reason that failed – a couple of times.  I was getting all kinds of messages with the words “corrupt, invalid, error,” etc.

Then suddenly I remembered – BACKBLAZE!  My internet connection isn’t the world’s finest, but it’s all I can get, so it did take some time to restore those files, and I had to do it in small chunks, but finally this morning everything was found and is back on my computer, so I am very grateful!!! I am also making a reminder to back up my genealogy on my external drive at least weekly and especially before I install or uninstall any software.

So my message today is simple:  Make Sure You Have a Cloud Backup!  There are several services and many reviews written about them.  Do your homework, pick one, and get some peace of mind.

Diggin’ Up Roots: pin-ups

Have yPinterest_logo-3ou ever considered Pinterest as a research tool for your genealogy?  I use Pinterest for projects I’m planning, things I see online that I don’t want to forget about, recipes, and other interests.

And at one point I did add a genealogy board, but then kind of forgot about it.  At RootsTech, my memory was jogged, so I came home and did some pinning.

Some of my Pinterest boards

Some of my Pinterest boards

I was quite surprised at the genealogy information already on Pinterest.  There are some great helps and ideas.  I realized that I should  keep “pinning” some of the images I use in my blog for those who love Pinterest, but have not yet discovered “Girl With a Past.”

If you are a fan of Pinterest, a genealogy board might be just the thing for you!  Take a look at my Pinterest Genealogy Board and hopefully it will give you some ideas.

Diggin’ Up Roots: dig those stories

One of the most interesting events for me and my sister was to attend the Innovator Summit Challenge at RootsTech where four entrepreneurs presented their ideas for genealogy technology.  It was done kind of like “Shark Tank,” but in a more gentle manner!  All four of the ideas were so good that it was hard to vote for just one, but the audience was asked to do just that.  The panel also voted.  Each of the four participants was awarded a cash prize, but the grand prize winner was StoryWorth, a company based in San Francisco.  The premise of their website is simple – “Each week, we email your loved ones a question about their life.  All they have to do is reply with a story, by email or by phone.  We save their stories on your private site and email them to your family.”  It is a great way to get your family to write their stories and the first month is free.  After that the pricing depends on the length of the service and the number of storytellers involved.

If you don’t want to use their service, it is still a great idea that you might be able to handle on a smaller scale with your immediate family.  It would be more time consuming, but it could be done.  Or just let StoryWorth do it for you!

There is a great story behind this picture, but only two people in the picture are still alive to tell it.

There is a great story behind this picture, but only two people in the picture are still alive to tell it.

There are so many great stories buried in our families, and probably many of them will stay buried unless we make a goal to do something about it.  StoryWorth is a great way to get started.

RootsTech 2015

I’m off to Salt Lake City for RootsTech.  Last year at the conference I learned how to “scrapbook” a family history and that got me started on my ongoing project, a children’s book about one of my great-grandfather’s brothers.  I am excited to see what projects I will be inspired to undertake at this year’s RootsTech.  But first things first – now that the long moving process is over and I am comfortable in my new surroundings, next week when I return home from the conference I will be back to blogging, more organizational tips, and my latest genealogy find which I am anxious to share.

New Digs: What Goes Around, Comes Around

Two of my 3rd great-grandfathers, Clinton Doneral Bronson and Amos Betts Andrews, came to Utah with the Mormon pioneers in 1847. Clinton married Amos’s daughter, Lovisa Andrews, and both families settled for a time in Huntsville in the Ogden Valley. Clinton’s brother, Wilmer Wharton Bronson, also settled there with his family. Some of their daughters married into the Ferrin and Hammond families, and descendants still reside in the valley. The Ogden Valley is a beautiful, secret gem in the Wasatch Mountains. It is dominated by Pineview Reservoir, a popular boating and fishing lake, and three ski resorts (Snow Basin, Powder Mountain, and Nordic Valley). The valley is comprised of three towns: Huntsville, Eden, and Liberty.


pineview fixed

Cemetery Point Beach, Pineview Reservoir, looking west toward Ogden Canyon, October 2014

Ogden Valley


When my husband and I began looking for a place to retire nearly five years ago, we ignored this beautiful valley, thinking it was too far away.  But after two of our daughters ended up living a 40-minute drive from the valley, it became more of a possibility.  In May we found a home we loved in Liberty, and here we are, living in the Nordic Valley area, just north of the very place where two of my grandfathers settled in the 1850’s.

painting the front

My husband and our daughters, Brenda and Alicia, painting the front of the house.

painting back

Daughters Kimi and Brenda painting those tall pillars in the back.

I have researched the Bronson and Andrews families extensively, especially the Andrews family, and can’t help feeling like I have “come home.”  Although the Amos Andrews family eventually left the valley, Amos was actually buried near Huntsville, but his grave was washed away.  I feel even closer to him now and am excited to spend my time here doing even more research on his family.  In my wildest dreams, I never expected this scenario to take place!

view from deck

View to the northwest from our deck.

And during the move I came up with more ways to organize my stuff!  Stay tuned!